Eight teams seek place in FA Trophy semi-finals

The FA Trophy takes centre-stage this weekend with the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy. Six Premier League clubs, one from the First Division and another one from Gozo will be battling for a place in the semi-finals.

On Saturday, First Division side Senglea Athletic take on holders Sliema Wanderers at the Hibernians Stadium, kick-off 14:00.

The Blues, who won the FA Trophy last season after defeating Balzan on penalties, lacked consistency this season as they managed to win points off some of the top teams but then dropped precious points against teams fighting against relegation. They lie in a comfortable mid-table position with 31 points from 22 matches. Senglea, on the other hand, are currently fourth in the BOV First Division and hope to secure one of the three automatic promotion spots. They lie four points behind leaders Naxxar and share the fourth place with Lija Athletic.

The Wanderers beat Mosta 3-2 and then found no difficulty in beating Second Division side Qrendi 5-0. Following a most comfortable 7-1 win over Gozitan side Xaghra United, Senglea Athletic registered a major surpirse as they eliminated Hibernians 3-2 after extra-time in the third round. In the fourth round, they defeated neighbours and fellow First Division side Vittoriosa Stars 2-1 once again after extra-time.

In the first match on Sunday, SK Victoria Wanderers host Premier League side Pembroke Athleta at the Gozo Stadium, kick-off 13:00.

The league campaign so far has been far from impressive for SK Victoria Wanderers in the BOV Gozo Football League First Division as they lie second from bottom on eleven points from thirteen matches. They won just two matches, earning the other points from five draws. However in the FA Trophy, they managed to beat Third Division side St. Venera Lightnings 3-0 in the first round, First Division side Melita 2-1 in the second round, Second Division side Mgarr United 5-0 in the third round and Premier League side St. Andrews 1-0 in the fourth round.

Pembroke Athleta, on the other hand, reached this stage following two identical 2-1 wins over two First Division sides – Sirens and Marsa. Pembroke lie second from bottom in the BOV Premier League with seventeen points from twenty-two matches.

The first match at the National Stadium on Sunday, kick-off at 14:00, puts last season’s finalists – Balzan against Tarxien Rainbows.

Balzan lost the top spot to Hibernians last week but remain one of the main challengers as they target their first major honour. Tarxien, on the other hand, are currently seventh and although they suffered their first defeat in ten weeks after losing to leaders Hibernians last week, they were one of the most consistent sides in recent weeks.

In the previous rounds of the FA Trophy, Tarxien defeated First Division sides Gharghur and Lija Athletic, beating them 6-0 and 3-0 respectively. Balzan, on the other hand, defeated First Division side Zebbug Rangers 3-1 before eliminating champions Valletta 1-0 thanks to a late goal by Alfred Effiong.

The two teams met twice in the BOV Premier League this season with the two clashes ending in 2-2 draws.

In the second match at the National Stadium, kick-off at 16:00, Floriana take on Hamrun Spartans.

Floriana are currently fourth in the BOV Premier League on 39 points, seven behind leaders Hibernians. Hamrun, on the other hand, are eighth on 26 points.

In the FA Trophy, the Greens defeated Second Division side Birzebbuga St. Peter’s 5-0 and Gozitan side Ghajnsielem 4-1 in the previous rounds. Hamrun defeated Gozitan side Nadur Youngsters 2-0 and First Division side Mqabba 1-0 in the previous rounds.

In the two BOV Premier League clashes between the two teams, Hamrun and Floriana shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw in the first round but in the second round, Floriana registered a comfortable 5-1 win.